This is an email from Your Coronavirus Update, a newsletter by Medium Coronavirus Blog.

The Latest: What you should know about the mutation

Dear Reader,

The new variant of the coronavirus — called B.1.1.7 — is becoming more widespread in the United States. This is concerning, because while many virus mutations are benign, this one has made the virus more contagious.

As Robert Roy Britt reports, this means the virus could rapidly increase the number of people infected with Covid-19, which will then significantly increase the number of people hospitalized. Hospitals in the United States are already under significant pressure from the pandemic. You do not want to get Covid-19 right now. Actually, you don’t want any kind of medical emergency right now.

A frustrating aspect of this pandemic is getting enough people to care. The amount of photos of people gathering in large groups unmasked and indoors over the holidays was deeply shocking. (Also, as my colleague wrote recently, do you really to post your dinner party putting people’s lives in danger!?)

The vaccines need to be distributed as quickly as possible, and hopefully the hiccups so far will be remedied. In the meantime, people need to be vigilant and follow the precautions we’ve learned so far. Wear a mask and seriously stop gathering with people outside your household indoors. Now that the vaccines are quite literally here, do what you can to not get infected. We got this!

Be well,

Alexandra Sifferlin
Coronavirus Blog

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Health and science journalist. Former editor of Medium’s Covid-19 Blog and deputy editor at Elemental. TIME Magazine writer before that